Roux Dat #45: Cape May, Durian, and Fast & Furious: Highway Heist

Hey, board gamers, BJ from Board Game Gumbo here, back with more inside looks at games we have been playing lately. Hit us up on Twitter or on Facebook and let us know what games you’ve been playing!

But that’s enough blather, let’s get right to the games! This time, we are checking out Cape May, a gorgeous city building game; Durian, a quick playing small box push your luck game with a funny theme; and Fast & Furious: Highway Heist, one of the new movie games from Funko.

Birds Are The Words

My wife and I had a love affair with New York: 1901 that lasted for many years. She loved beating the snot out of me as we raced to put up beautiful cardboard-and-plastic pieces representing buildings we recognize today and some from days gone by. It lit the fire in us that still burns for city building or tile laying type of games.

So, we were excited to open up a review copy of Cape May, designed by Eric Musso and published by Thunderworks Games. As Jay said in our playthrough, we are not used to seeing non-Roll Player themes from Thunderworks, and the absolutely gorgeous art from Michael Menzel really sets the mood right from the box cover to the board. There’s always something to look at and discover!

The gameplay is pretty simple — each turn over 12 rounds representing four seasons players will take three actions, usually consisting of moving around Cape May, New Jersey (a lovely Atlantic seaside resort just eight hours from Montreal) or placing shops and cottages on the board or upgrading those into 3D buildings.

Each player has hidden goals to meet like having the most Victorian homes in a particular section, and players will score public points by dominating the various areas on the board with their buildings or building beautiful landmark buildings representing the best of local architecture.

What sets this apart from the usual city building game is the economic engine. It’s light and easy to understand but oh-so-important. When you place buildings on the city, your income track goes up (and sometimes you even earn bonus super power cards.)

The feeling you get when you are out of money but your shops drop 30 coins in the final round for you to spend? Priceless. But you can’t just focus on income, because it is worthless at the end of the game. You must build the right buildings …. in the right places … in the right styles to score points!

You’ll feel clever as you chain up some cards in your hand to move quickly to a spot that allows you to double upgrade while grabbing some bird tokens on your next turn to complete your set. That’s right, bird watching in the natural preserves around Cape May scores bonus points at the end of the game!

Roux Dat Says: We’ve played at every play count, and have thoroughly enjoyed every play. It looks gorgeous on the table, and is very breezy and rewarding. The combination of economy, puzzles with the buildings, bonus powers and hidden objectives, and the fun move around the board and spot birds mechanics all add up to one of the most enjoyable euros we have played this year.

Those Darn Meddlin’ Nephews

Who doesn’t love Oink Games’ small box games with (mostly) big box experiences? I have a few in my collection, and I am always looking at the new crop every Essen / Gen Con.

One that I wanted to play a year or so ago was Durian. In this game, we are helping our gorilla store manager sell fruit to customers. The trick? We can see the inventory of the store based on the public cards our teammates have, but not our own card. So, we don’t have perfect information about how much strawberries and bananas we can actually sell!

Then, the orders start coming in. Each player takes a turn putting out the orders and deciding which side of the card to fill — will we add more durian orders? Do we have enough fruit to fulfill? If any of the players think there’s not enough, they can grab the bell in the middle of the table and call the manager in to take the count.

And we don’t want to disappoint the gorilla, now do we?

But taking chances that we have enough to fill all the orders is not the only stress in the game. Our gorilla manager has three nephews that like to meddle in our smooth operation. Each does something slightly different, from eating up all the bananas we have in the stock room to reversing the orders on the floor. They work differently depending on if they are in your inventory or if they come out as we add cards to the orders, and that’s a subtle but brilliant touch that keeps the game fresh.

ROUX DAT SAYS: Durian boils down two mechanics — push-your-luck and hidden information / bluffing — down to very simple elements. After playing it at a number of different play counts, I think it has worked better with the higher ends. Games like this have that Hanabi mechanism of allowing everyone else to know what you have in your hand, while you flounder around trying to do some deductive reasoning based on the actions of the other players, aren’t appealing to every player. But the short time length, tension in adding to the stack of orders, and chaos that ensues when the nephews arrive all add up to a good time. I’m looking forward to many plays with my family at Christmastime.

Are You Sure Tanks Can Do That?

Funko Games has a well-deserved reputation for taking IP games and elevating them to real hobby experiences, unlike the trash-for-cash that we saw growing up in the hobby in the 70s and 80s. We’ve enjoyed a number of them recently, with Jaws and The Rocketeer probably standing out among the rest.

The latest one to grace our GameToppers LLC mat is Fast & Furious: Highway Heist game. Based on the hit movie franchise, one which unfortunately I have never seen, Fast & Furious takes cooperative games to another level of cinematic goodness.

Players each play the stars of the franchise, recognizable even in their softened looks on the player boards. I played Brian while Jerod played Han, with each character giving us unique special abilities, and we each picked our own sports car which also gave us ways to boost up our dice strength or cool tricks.

The game comes with three pre-designed scenarios: neutralizing a big tank smashing up cars along the way, dodging and capturing a helicopter, and of course, a chase and fight scene with a massive 18 wheeler and all the attendant baddies.

The game also comes with tons of “stunt” cards, which are one of the ways that you use to do incredible movie-like maneuvers (that have no basis in physics or real life, of course) to attack the enemy vehicles and win the game. The stunts are also important because they represent one of the timers in the game, so get ’em done or you will find yourself in a world of hurt.

As I would expect from Funko, the production is amazing. The artwork is reminiscent of the movies, and the iconography is clean and easy to read. The pieces, of course, are outstanding — lots of plastic cars and shields for the player tokens who are bouncing around from car to tank with ease.

The fact that the game comes with three unique scenarios, and each one has a random amount of stunts that come out, means that there is enough in this box to get a half-dozen or more hours of entertainment.

ROUX DAT SAYS: I love where we are going with these co-operative games. Sure, most of them are just puzzles that we collectively solve, but games like Jaws and Fast & Furious really try to build a narrative, a momentum of story that grabs players by the arm in the first few minutes and propels them to the (hopefully) successful end. We never felt like we had total control, and when we won on the second to last turn, it was a big high five moment. The best co-op ever? Hardly, but this is a pretty good beer-and-pretzel game. I’d definitely play this again.

THE WRAP UP:

So that’s it for our recent plays. Roux Dat will be back soon with more early looks at recent plays.

Is there a game out there that you or your friends are curious about? Hit us up with a tweet @boardgamegumbo and we will see if we can get our hands on the game!

Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!

— BJ @boardgamegumbo

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